Topped with homemade jam and creamy almond butter swirls, these banana bread bars are so soft, tender, and flavourful that you’d never believe they’re made without any flour, oil, or refined sugar.
It’s peanut butter jelly time! Peanut butter jelly time!
Except not really. I mean, it most definitely could be peanut butter and jelly time if you wanted to swing that way, but given my body’s natural aversion to the loathsome legume (read: my unfortunate peanut allergy), I don’t think it’d go over too well if I tried it myself.
So almond butter and jelly it is! Only instead of putting it in sandwich form (which I’ve been enjoying for lunch for a solid two weeks now), we’re combining the classic combo with banana bread to create a batch of delicious gluten-free & vegan almond butter and jelly banana bread bars…
These tasty bars are an upgraded version of the strawberry banana oat bars that I posted last year. And I say upgraded because everything tastes better with almond butter. Or peanut, if you swing that way.
The base and filling are the same (gluten-free, oil-free, refined sugar-free), only this time there’s no crumble on top. Instead, the entire crust recipe is used for the base, giving these bars the taste and feel of an extra tender and fluffy banana bread.
It’s kind of dreamy… especially with the almond butter and jelly swirl..
Also, can we please take a moment to talk about my swirling skills. Or lack thereof. I see so many gorgeously executed swirlified desserts, and then here’s my almond butter and jelly banana bread bars looking like I just threw nut butter at them and called it good… which I basically did. Kind of like those paintings where people just toss paint at a canvas and call it art.
Whatever. Rolling with it.
So underneath those
swirls patches of almond butter is a homemade strawberry chia seed jam that sounds all fancy and complicated but is actually super easy to make.
You could go for store-bought jam if you really wanted to, but I highly recommend taking the extra 10-15 minutes to make your own jam. Not only does it mean that you get to avoid any added refined sugars, but you can also take advantage of all the fresh berries that have been popping up in stores lately. Anyone else enjoying organic strawberries on sale?
That being said, it doesn’t have to be strawberries, just like it doesn’t have to be almond butter. You could just as easily use blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or even cherries if you wanted to. The only thing I’d say you have to do is make these banana bread bars, stat…
I’d love to know if you make this recipe! Leave a comment and rating down below to let me know what you think, and subscribe to our mailing list to receive new recipes in your inbox!Print
For the strawberry chia jam:
- 2 cups (350 g) frozen strawberries*
- 2 Tbsp (30 ml) maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp (14 g) chia seeds
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the banana oat bars:
- 2 cups (160 g) rolled oats, divided**
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 medium-sized ripe bananas, mashed (200g or 1 cup)
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp almond butter***
- Make the jam:
- Add the strawberries and maple syrup to a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Heat until the berries begin to release their liquid, about 5-15 minutes depending on whether or not they were thawed first. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the berries begin to break down and thicken, about 5 -10 minutes. Use your spoon to break them apart further, if desired.
- Stir in the chia seeds and vanilla, continuing to cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the jam to cool. It will continue to thicken the longer it sits, which is why I usually like to make it the night before I’m planning on making these bars.
- Make the bars:
- Preheat oven to 375F (190C) and prepare an 8×8 (20x20cm) baking dish by lining it with a sheet of aluminum foil or parchment paper, leaving a few inches of overhang on the sides to allow for easy removal. Spray foil with cooking spray and set aside.
- Place 1 cup (80 g) of oats in a food processor or blender, and process until they resemble a fine flour. Transfer the oat flour to a large mixing bowl, and add the remaining rolled oats, baking powder, and salt, mixing well.
- Add the mashed bananas, maple syrup, and vanilla extract, mixing until everything is well combined and a sticky dough is formed.
- Transfer the dough to your prepared baking pan, using a spatula to ensure that it is evenly distributed. Spoon the chia jam over top, and use a spatula to spread it evenly, making sure to only go within 1/4 of the edge to prevent the jam from burning. Drop the almond butter in small dollops across the entire surface of the jam, and use a toothpick to swirl it around a little.
- Bake the bars for 30-35 minutes until the top has set. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes before removing and cutting into bars.
* You can easily sub out strawberries for your favourite fruit. Or use 3/4 cup store-bought jam if you don’t want to make your own. ** Make sure to use certified gluten-free oats if you need these to be gluten-free. *** Feel free to use peanut butter if that’s what you have on hand, or use a soy-nut butter to make these nut free. Also, either smooth,crunchy, natural, or no-stir work fine. If you’re having trouble getting your nut butter to spread, melt it in the microwave for 30 seconds prior to dropping on the bars.
Keywords: AB&J, almond butter and jelly, banana bread, banana bread bars, breakfast, chia seed jam, gluten-free, healthy, PBJ, recipe, snack, vegan
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